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ATHENS: Greece holds a general election today that is seen unlikely to produce a clear winner, with a second vote expected by July if the country’s fractious political parties fail to agree to a coalition.

While opinion polls have placed the ruling conservative New Democracy party in the lead, a change to the country’s electoral system means it is likely to fall short of an absolute majority.

“The party ranking first needs over 45 per cent of the electorate in order to create a single party administration, something which it seems is quite unlikely,” said political analyst Panos Koliastasis.

New Democracy, headed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is polling between 31-38 per cent, followed by opposition leftist Syriza, trailing by 4-7 points.

A cost of living crisis experienced in Greece, as in other European countries, has taken centre stage in the campaigns, with the parties trying to woo voters with pledges to increase the minimum wage and create jobs.

Polling stations will open at 7.00am (12 noon Malaysian time) across Greece and close 12 hours later. Just under 10 million Greeks have the right to vote.

A joint exit poll conducted by six polling agencies will be released at 1600 GMT (12 midnight Malaysian time).

Should no party win outright, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will give the top three parties a three-day mandate each, in turn, to form a government.

If they all fail, Sakellaropoulou will appoint a caretaker government that will lead the country to new elections roughly a month later. — Reuters